New book sets stage for use of hemp paper in printing supply chain

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When German journalist Maren Krings was struck with the inspiration to create a book about hemp and climate change, she started with the logical premise that the finished product should be as sustainable as possible.

Hemp paper, Krings reasoned, would obviously be required.

Through four years of travel documenting the 21st Century story of hemp – from Europe’s Alps to the vast hemp fields of China, from North America to Africa – the photographer and climate-impact storyteller was also constantly searching for high-quality hemp paper.

While the travel was sometimes punishing and occasionally precarious, it was the search for the right paper Krings found most challenging.

Hard to find

“I looked in India, USA, China and Europe for hemp paper and failed everywhere,” Krings said. Finally, back in Germany, where Krings had approached specialized paper companies with her book idea, legacy papermaker Hahnemühle took up the challenge to create the kind of sustainable, high-quality product Krings was seeking.

The book, H is for Hemp, is a sparkling compilation of vignettes, commentary, interviews, profiles, photo essays and information graphics about hemp and the fight against climate change. But in Krings’ determination to make the book as sustainable as possible, it became more than that.

When the presses roll on H is for Hemp early next year, it will demonstrate how hemp-based paper, virtually unknown among retail printers, can fit neatly into – and improve the sustainability of – advanced digital printing operations. It’s also an example of how hemp in the broader sense, and for its many uses, can serve as input to existing industrial production.

High-quality paper

The new hemp paper, designed for high-speed inkjet, analog offset and other flexible digital printing systems, is the latest in a line of eco-friendly papers from Hahnemühle, one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-quality papers for photographic prints and art reproductions.

Hahnemühle had been working on a high-quality hemp sketch paper it later adapted to develop Hahnemühle Hemp, which comes in 80 gsm standard page weight; and 280 gsm, which will be used for the book’s soft cover. The cover paper is also suitable for fine art and photographic prints.

Krings’ research took her to Hempfortex, a textile maker in China, and to 25 other countries. (Photo: Maren Krings)

Hemp paper can enhance sustainability in a modern digital printing supply and production chain that has already reduced that industry’s carbon footprint through print-on-demand (POD) services that balance resources by turning out books or other printed matter in smaller batches, as products are ordered. In conventional book printing, thousands of copies are printed at once, usually in the same location and requiring storage. Printing on digital machines in different remote locations reduces storage needs and the carbon footprint by shortening shipping distances of the finished product.

Multi-media project

Krings and Hahnemühle are working with Elanders, a Stuttgart company that offers POD services, supply chain management and e-commerce solutions to the printing and packaging industries in nearly 20 markets around the world. The partners are teaming up to develop standards and parameters aimed at achieving the highest quality end product possible through the combination of Hahnemühle Hemp roll- and sheet-fed paper and digital printing technology. Initial remote printing locations for the production of H is for Hemp are planned for Elanders facilities in the USA, UK, and Sweden, Krings said.

An exhibition of Krings’s photos printed on the hemp paper is currently on at Amsterdam’s Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. Such international exhibitions and Krings book are parts of an ongoing comprehensive multi-media project about hemp for which she also plans a film.

H is for Hemp is supported by Germany’s HempHolding Group, led by its flagship Hempro International, GmbH unit, as corporate sponsor, other sponsors and patrons.

More than half of 500 specially-bound, signed Limited Collector’s Editions of H is for Hemp have already been pre-ordered from customers around the world, Krings said. Standard editions of the book, also printed on hemp paper, may be pre-ordered beginning April 1, 2022.

Krings recorded 200 photography projects and conducted more than 80 interviews with industry experts in compiling H is for Hemp. (Photo: Lloyd Belcher)

More: Specialty hemp-based paper is breakthrough for digital printing
About the Author: Maren Krings

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